Health Care, Human Resources, and Technology

Is my smartphone making me dumb?

April 21, 2017
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I read an article recently about building cultural intelligence and the role that your smartphone may play in hindering your ability to do so. Evidently, we need time to be bored.

We need time to think about our inner lives, to reflect on our personal background, our biases and our identity.

We also need boredom to spark creativity. Researchers Sandi Mann and Rebekah Cadman conducted a study in which the results suggested participating in boring activities, like copying numbers from a phone book, led to increased creativity in subsequent tasks.

So, what does this have to do with my smartphone, you ask? Well, even as I write this, I have checked my phone several times. Checking my social media feeds, awaiting new text messages to pop up and looking at the weather forecast — again. My smartphone keeps me from ever having to be bored. It also keeps me from ever really being “present” in a conversation. As a matter of fact, according to ABC News, people check their phones 150 times a day — that’s once every 9.6 minutes!

More often than not, conversations have become fragmented. We are constantly connected and therefore in and out of what’s going on around us. And, if we are only partially available to the people in our physical presence, how can we develop our cultural intelligence?

I promise I am not going to suggest that we ban smartphones. But, we do need to appreciate how they are impacting our lives. We should create boundaries and reinforce behaviors that allow us to be bored. To be creative. To engage.

Having a strong CQ is important to me and something I encourage at home. To foster this, there are a few “technology rules” we have at our house, but the most effective for me was getting my phone away from me, keeping it out of reach as much as possible. Now, I read actual books, not words on a screen that make my face glow. I know, that sounds boring. But isn't that the point?

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